Almost three decades ago, in 1986, I lost my maternal grandmother, Ayesha Rahman, at the age of 82. She was originally from Hyderabad, India.
In September 2014, I lost a dearly loved aunt. Her name was Jady Rahman (Ayesha Rahman’s daughter-in-law), age 85 from La Jolla, California; she was the picture of health so her death came as a shock to our family. She was originally from China.
May they both rest in peace. I’m remembering both today by talking about something I made for each of them, using my sewing and crocheting skills.
Back in the 70s, my Mom urged me to make something for my grandmother Ayesha, who was a handwork enthusiast herself, and was a thoroughly creative soul. She’s pictured above as a young married woman in the 1920s. I watched her embroider things, using stitches I did not know existed. I have a vivid memory of her embroidering flowers on a pillow cover, using twill tape (wide twill tape) instead of embroidery floss!! That was fascinating, and of course she let me try my hands on her project. Beware of a future blog post on this handwork technique. In 1973, my gift to her was this triangular crocheted shawl in very 70s colors; the yarn was probably wool because the shawl looks pretty matted and felted today. We still possess this shawl and use it for my mother, age 89. Maybe I’ll get to use it some day??
In 2012, after a very long time in the works, I finished a dress for my aunt Jady (pictured above somewhere in France in 1960), along the lines of a couture dress in lightweight maroon silk taffeta. I think in India they call it shot silk. Couture, because that is what she appreciated. She was picky about the fit and the muslin went back and forth in the mail several times. In La Jolla, she led an active life and would have put this dress to good use. She gave me a dress she owned and loved, to copy the fit and style for her. I used knowledge gained from Kenneth King’s class on Pattern Review to copy her original dress. She had purchased the fabric in India, and had stored it for a long time – a true non-sewing fabric collector. I underlined the dress in silk organza and lined it in Bemberg Rayon; the zipper was hand-picked. In the picture you can see it on my dress form which is a much larger size than Jady was; the back of the dress could not be zipped on the form, hence the wonky look in the picture. I am proud of my aunt for appreciating the finer details of dressmaking, and am proud that I made a dress for her. I am prouder that her work was dedicated to cancer research.
6 thoughts on “Departed Family Members and What I Made for Them”
Thanks Samina. I love that comment about Couture because that is what she appreciated. Needing to get back to what I appreciate and stop fooling around with the fast and quick crowd. I can only imagine how beautiful that silk is.
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What a lovely stiry. Made me smile!
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I’m sorry for the loss of your aunt. How lovely that you made such a beautiful dress for her according to her preferences. I would love to read more about the unusual handwork of your grandmother.
Thank you, Lisa. You can be sure I will try to resurrect my skills at the twill tape embroidery of my grandma, and write about it 🙂
What a lovely post. My grandma made lots if clothes for me when I was little. Plus a doll that I still have. Thanks for jogging my memory. I need to find that doll….
I found your blog through an interweave press email. I sew too, and write a blog about what I sew. However it’s not that much about making things in the sense that you do – but about a language of stitch I’ve devised to talk about the more esoteric aspects of my sewing as
a textile artist. http://gopikanathstitchjournal.blogspot.com/
I loved your anecdotal style of writing and am envious of your sewing memory and legacy.
I live in Gurgaon, India and have worked with craftsman around Hyderabad. Been there a few times.
Good luck with the sewing